New Delhi, March 24, 2015 (Agencies) India’s response to the Hurriyat interaction with the Pakistan High Commission is a nuanced departure from the earlier tough stand the government took in August last year when it cancelled Foreign Secretary-level talks after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit met Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of the talks despite calls by India to not go ahead with it. After a lull, the government last month resumed dialogue with the Foreign Secretary’s “SAARC Yatra”.

“It is my firm conviction that all outstanding issues can be resolved through bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror & violence,” Mr. Modi tweeted. In another tweet, he said: “I have written to Pakistan PM Mr. Nawaz Sharif, conveying my greetings on the National Day of Pakistan.”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Basit said India has no objection to Hurriyat leaders being invited on Pakistan National Day. “I don’t think Indian government is objecting. I would rather suggest my media friends not to make an issue out of a non-issue,” he commented.

Responding to questions on the issue, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “The Government of India prefers to speak for itself.”

“Having repeated it on so many occasions, there should be no scope for misunderstanding or misrepresenting India's position on the role of the so called Hurriyat,” he stated. Mr. Akbaruddin reiterated there are only “two parties” and there is “no place for a third party” in resolution of India-Pakistan issues and added that the only way forward to proceed on all outstanding issues is a peaceful, bilateral dialogue within the framework of the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration.

Speaking at the National Day celebrations at the High Commission, Mr. Basit underlined the importance of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s vision of “Peace for development and development for peace.” Claiming that Pakistan was keen “to settle all the issues with India, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, through dialogue,” he added that it was now “high time to normalize relations” and address the challenges facing the region to exploit the myriad of opportunities unleashed by globalization.

Meanwhile in Islamabad, Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain said Pakistan wanted friendship with India but underscored that resolving Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN resolutions was essential.

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